Hi-I was going to PM a member directly after researching my question on the forum, but I can't until I have 5 posts. So I am putting my questions out to the community and I would really, really, really appreciate any advice or information based on your experience.
I live in NW DC (Petworth-just south of Silver Spring) and I am just getting back into riding (I rode for several years when I was young) I learned to ride on Saddlebreds and had a wonderful Morgan as a teenager. I would love to ride saddleseat again, but really I just want to ride and be around horses so I would be happy with any kind of english. I've taken a few lessons at Rock Creek in DC but I have a feeling I am going to want to ride often and possibly adopt or buy, so RC isn't really a long-term option. Which brings me to my questions that I would really appreciate your input on.....
I'd like to find a barn that meets the following criteria - but I know in this area I can't be picky - so it is really more of a wish list.
1) lessons - I would really consider myself to be a beginner so I don't think I can go anywhere that doesn't have lessons. I would want to be responsible for grooming and tacking up before the lesson and cooling out after. In other words, I want to have a chance to bond with the horse however briefly, not just show up to ride.
2) boarding with turnout & maybe decent trails - I'd like to get started somewhere I could eventually board and I wouldn't want anywhere that my horse (I am being presumptuous here!) couldn't have the freedom to be out as much as possible. I've noticed that many barns don't offer field only here.
3) laid back - I am not sure I would be happy at a big lesson or show barn but I definitely want to keep learning and try new things. Maybe the two are mutually exclusive? I wouldn't sacrifice quality learning for laid back, but I would ultimately be much happier in a somewhat relaxed environment.
With respect to location, I've google-mapped every barn I can find and I think I am going to need to stay to the right half of Montgomery County or upper half of PG County to keep the commute at an hour or so on average. I can handle up to $700 for full board (recognizing that farrier, vet, lessons, etc will be additional $$). Some of the barns I am considering checking out are Drayton farm, Waredaca, Millhaven, Woodland, Reddemeade, Periwinkle, Sandy Springs, Windsor Manor, Horsepen Hill, Loftmar. Several of these barns only offer lessons to people who already have horses - so unless they offer leasing - I may be out of luck with those. I've only gotten a recommendation for Waredaca but I don't really have many people to ask (hence the post). I am sure I've missed some barns too.
So if I haven't completely worn out my welcome.... one last question. Is anyone familiar with Saddlebred Rescue in NJ? Or Mid-Atlantic Rescue, Bright Futures or Omega? I would like to adopt eventually if possible, but I would need a horse that would be OK for a (very patient) beginner so I figure it is good to start researching early.
I apologize for the multiple questions. I would GREATLY appreciate any advice or ideas that anyone has.
Thank you and I hope everyone is safe from tropical storm Sandy!